Midway through the 2010-11 season, the Oliver Ames girls’ basketball team was still trying to find its identity.
By the end of the year, the Lady Tigers had completed another tournament run before in the Division 2 South semifinals, one year after head coach Elaine Clement-Holbrook captured her second state championship.
“If we thought [today] that we were going to be in the semifinals two months ago, I don’t think anyone would have believed me if I had told them that where I expected them to be,” Holbrook said after the loss to Scituate last Tuesday at Massasoit.
After starting the season 6-5, the team won nine straight games to close out the regular season – including a huge win against Rex-Kelley champion and then- undefeated Mansfield – en route to a Davenport Division championship.
From there, the Tigers captured the Walpole Tournament and defeated Medfield and Sharon in the MIAA tournament before its loss to Scituate.
Holbrook credited senior co-captains Jocelyn Paul and Nicole Bostic, who helped the team overcome its sluggish start with their leadership during the second half of the season.
“They helped bring this team together with their leadership,” she said. “Those were two kids from the state championship team last year and they had to rebuild with such a young group of kids and I thought that they sacrificed themselves as individuals for the bit of the group.
“You could see the results in terms of how they came together when we won ten in a row and that was big pressure for them,” continued Clement-Holbrook. “To beat the likes of Medfield and Mansfield was a great accomplishment. They have nothing to be ashamed of and nothing to hang their heads over.”
Even though Paul and Bostic will be graduating in the spring, they will still carry the team's tradition.
“I’m really proud of them in the sense that they understand the tradition of Oliver Ames girls basketball,” Clement-Holbrook said. “And it’s a big responsibility when you accept the leadership because you have to give up the needs of yourself as an individual and your job is to do whatever it takes for the good of the group. The legacy that they leave is the legacy that the kids left before them.”
With Paul and Bostic graduating, the Tigers will return four of their five starters next season in Asia Mitchell, Candace Steadman, Caitlyn Abela and Emily Romans. The team will also return Kristen Ellis, Lexi Gold, Allie Brennan and Lindsay McNiece for added experience.
With a good core returning next season, the Tigers should once again be favorite to at least win the Davenport Division in 2011-12.